201 Folsom Rendering
The Mayor’s proposed carrots in the form of deferred impact and reduced affordable housing fees has caught the attention of the developer community as Tishman Speyer estimates the cuts could shave two years off the start date for 201 Folsom (for which they currently have three years to start).
Also noted, Bosa Development is “scrambling to obtain financing for a July construction start for the next 170 units of [Radiance Phase II].” And there’s the rub. Regardless of developer optimism, it all comes down to the financial markets opening back up (which are being driven more by fundamentals than exuberance these days).
Carrot, Stick, And Cell Legislation In The Works For San Francisco [SocketSite]
Fee break targets housing [San Francisco Business Times]
201 Folsom: Three More Years To Contemplate And Start Construction [SocketSite]
Radiance At Mission Bay Phase II Update: Officially “Suspended” [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Turin

    Is TS saying they may start 201 Folsom within a year (3 year window – 2 years shaved)? Seems highly unlikely. But if these changes mean it will start sometime in the next 3 years, I’ll be happy (assuming the design is improved).
    I’ve read quotes from Bosa representatives that they might start phase 2 this summer, and heard that they may build phase 2 in, well, 2 phases. Again, I’m not holding my breath, but at least there is some optimism out there — unfounded though it may be.

  2. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    What does a developer need to do in order to qualify their project as “started” ? Build the foundation and basic garage box ?
    I’ve got a hunch that in the market outlook is still questionable 3 years from now, the developer will do the minimum required in order to keep their option open and go slow from there.
    This happens a lot in Tahoe where sewer permits are hard to acquire. People build their foundations and let it stand for years until they can fund the rest of the development. Big Chief Lodge anyone ?

  3. Posted by Gil

    The operative sentences:
    “And there’s the rub. Regardless of developer optimism, it all comes down to the financial markets opening back up (which are being driven more by fundamentals than exuberance these days).”
    Extended delays on these projects threaten the grandiose SOMA/Transbay plans. This is more an act of desperation to try to save what looks now to be a precarious, dare I say unrealistic, vision for this area on the part of the city.
    That San francisco – a city known for going after every last penny/concession it can get from developers – is stepping back from its normal “extortion mode” when it comes to developers tells you the SOMA proposals are on very shaky ground.

  4. Posted by intheknow

    @Milkshake: Nice reference to the Big Chief Lodge. I’ve been staring at that thing for over 10 years wondering what the story was. I hope it never gets built. New construction simply shouldn’t be allowed in the river corridor like that.

  5. Posted by anon

    Well, the “Beale St. Alternative” location for high-speed rail needs to decided first, because the train box and two highrises can’t both be built on the same lot.

  6. Posted by Mole Man

    Extended delays are the norm for large projects with multiple components, especially during economically turbulent times. Compared to the Big Dig the Transbay project is a runaway chain reaction.
    Sometimes San Francisco politicians come to the realization that they might have gone too far. This isn’t as meaningful as it might seem, though the City would probably be a better place if this happened more often.

  7. Posted by Gil

    “Well, the “Beale St. Alternative” location for high-speed rail needs to decided first, because the train box and two highrises can’t both be built on the same lot.”
    Yup. If Beale St is chosen that pretty much eliminates several of these sites from condo tower construction.
    Bottom line, if a full look at the alternative sites is not undertaken there will be lawsuits coming which will delay this for years.
    Kopp and others are sticking to their guns and will not back down. Kopp has a point – the Transbay site cannot handle peak projected HSR traffic. That alone should eliminate it from consideration – if true.
    I read someone defend the Tranbay site by arguing the peak traffic projections are way off and won’t be near as high as the state says. Say what – if that is true then why is the HSR being built to start with?
    Any way you look at it, this is going to be hung up in court for years and years.

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “…the Transbay site cannot handle peak projected HSR traffic.”
    sigh. Once again, the transbay need not be the termination of 100% of HSR runs. The overflow (when peak capacity is reached in 2137 or so), can terminate at 4th & King or other stations south.
    You might be surprised to know that a large number of French TGV runs call at stations in the suburbs and never enter central Paris. Somehow TGV is still wildly successful.

  9. Posted by corntrollio

    “sigh. Once again, the transbay need not be the termination of 100% of HSR runs. The overflow (when peak capacity is reached in 2137 or so), can terminate at 4th & King or other stations south.”
    Agree with Milkshake. This is the plan anyway. And the TGV comparison is relevant too. If this was really an issue, they could just build a second level in the train box too, despite the cost. The whole thing is a red herring.

  10. Posted by lyqwyd

    “sigh. Once again, the transbay need not be the termination of 100% of HSR runs. The overflow (when peak capacity is reached in 2137 or so), can terminate at 4th & King or other stations south.”
    prop 1A limits the number of stations that can be built for HSR, and to my knowledge 4th & King is not one of the designated HSR stations, meaning 4th & King may not support HSR train lengths, which are much longer than Caltrain trains. Caltrain can terminate at 4th & King, but that doesn’t really help HSR since the station plan at Transbay does not accommodate sharing platforms between Caltrain & HSR. Basically, the current Transbay plan has 2 tracks (4 platforms) for HSR & 1 track (2 platforms) for Caltrain. HSR trains are longer, and the platforms for the 3rd track where Caltrain will terminate is not currently designed to fit HSR trains).
    The next station down is SFO, which is certainly not a usable termination point.
    If the station is in the current Transbay station, or the Beale alternative, it will in all likelihood need to handle all peak traffic requirements (at least for HSR).

  11. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    ^^^ Who said anything about constructing HSR platforms at 4th & King using the funds earmarked by prop 1A ? This can be implemented at a later phase. So when transbay approaches saturation in 2137 AD then the 4th and King (or where ever … bayshore ?) station can be constructed to absorb the overflow.
    When transbay approaches saturation then HSR will be an obvious success and it won’t be hard to fund expanded capacity, even if that means constructing another stack of platforms vertically at transbay.
    (BTW – I think you have your platform and track counts reversed)

  12. Posted by corntrollio

    “(BTW – I think you have your platform and track counts reversed)”
    I’m pretty sure lyqwyd got the track/platform counts right — 4 platforms for HSR and 2 for Caltrain.
    But I think it’s not so much the length of platforms, although that’s an issue, but more the height of platforms that makes HSR incompatible with CalTrain.
    In any case, I’m not sure why we’re spending so much time on this. It’s still a red herring from Kopp. :)

  13. Posted by lyqwyd

    ^^^^^^^^^^^
    Unless there’s a specific plan, I’m not going to count on any later date fixes. How do we know they won’t build condos on the space that will needed for later expansions? Look at BART, billions being spent on useless extensions, and they still can’t spend any money on fixing Embarcadero & Montgomery stations, which are currently over capacity.
    “(BTW – I think you have your platform and track counts reversed)”
    You are correct, my mistake. Thanks!

  14. Posted by jamie

    Can we please eliminate the SOMA Stabilization Fund fee on the other development sites – those that didn’t get special treatment to have a district notched out of the Rincon Hill Plan Area? This is an additional fee… and hinders development in Rincon Hill even moreso than the fees that at least apply to all buildings and not just a select 14 blocks.

  15. Posted by jamie

    On High-Speed Rail: There’s no way in hell CHSRA is going to knock down 424 housing units and dig tunnels near the anchoring of the Bay Bridge and the City’s water pump station at Main/Bryant along with other water infrastructure along The Embarcadero. I think CHSRA is just trying to elbow the one competitor they can for the ARRA funds the FRA will be doling out soon … $57 billion of applications chasing a $8 billion pot. We’ve got nearly 500 emails shot off to the Chair and ED of CHSRA (www.My94105.com)yelling at them to cease consideration of the Beale Street Alternative .. hopefully one or two folks will go down to Palo Alto next week to yell a little more about CHSRA even thinking about building a second complete train station within a block of the Transbay Transit Center.
    On the urgency to start developing 201 Folsom – the community spoke at the Planning Commission when their approval was up a few months ago, and if (when) the US Postal Service letter carriers move out of that space and go to 550 Townsend as planned, that will change things up for 201 Folsom significantly in regards to their currently approved parking allotment – and it’ll need to go through the process again.

  16. Posted by lyqwyd

    “There’s no way in hell CHSRA is going to knock down 424 housing units and dig tunnels near the anchoring of the Bay Bridge and … ”
    That’s why you do a study, to find out if that will actually be required, or if TJPA was exaggerating the impacts for their own purposes.
    Not to mention that CHSRA may be required by CEQA law to study alternatives.

  17. Posted by jamie

    Yeah … that’s a bureaucrat wonk answer for sure. Good luck selling those $10 billion of Prop 1a bonds for high-speed rail as the credit rating for the State of California keeps going lower …. downgraded to A- the other day by S&P, almost caught up (down) with Fitch and Moody’s ratings (BBB and Baa1, if memory serves).

  18. Posted by Gil

    “Not to mention that CHSRA may be required by CEQA law to study alternatives”
    It is required to fully study all alternatives. This is one of the major issues with the Kopp camp regarding this. They are demanding full studies of the alternatives.

  19. Posted by eastbaymike

    CEQA does require the study of a range of “reasonable” alterntives to a proposed project but not on the same level as that required of the proposed project. This reasonable range of alternatives must include those which would minimize the significant impacts (as defined by CEQA) of the proposed project. The whole “CEQA requires us to evaluate alternatives” cry is a red herring.

  20. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    eastbaymike,
    Is this the document you were referring to(http://ceres.ca.gov/ceqa/guidelines/art9.html)?
    If so, I found this:
    “15126.6 Consideration and Discussion of Alternatives to the Proposed Project.
    (a) Alternatives to the Proposed Project. An EIR shall describe a range of reasonable alternatives to the project, or to the location of the project, which would feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the project but would avoid or substantially lessen any of the significant effects of the project, and evaluate the comparative merits of the alternatives. An EIR need not consider every conceivable alternative to a project. Rather it must consider a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives that will foster informed decisionmaking and public participation. An EIR is not required to consider alternatives which are infeasible. The lead agency is responsible for selecting a range of project alternatives for examination and must publicly disclose its reasoning for selecting those alternatives. There is no ironclad rule governing the nature or scope of the alternatives to be discussed other than the rule of reason.”
    It would be interesting to have some of the more legally-minded comb through this document.

  21. Posted by Freeforall

    So why not forgo all fees. Hell make it free to build what ever you want in SF. We don’t need any parks, open space, affordable housing, transit, street improvements, schools,or any other hindrances to development.
    No one lives in the Rincon Hill neighborhood anyway. Why should the developers have to contribute to neighborhood improvements when there is no there there.
    What a bunch of B.S. If the Rincon Hill neighborhood Association let’s this stand, they will have no one to blame in the years ahead for the lack of improvements that were promised by the developers afforded approvals for their projects.
    What the heck, the developers have to feed their families. The construction workers have to feed their families. The planers and Architects have to feed their families. The salesman has to feed their families. The lobbyist have to eat their families. The politicians have to screw their families. We don’t need no stinking neighborhood improvements….everything else is so much more important.

  22. Posted by Gil

    “Yeah … that’s a bureaucrat wonk answer for sure. Good luck selling those $10 billion of Prop 1a bonds for high-speed rail as the credit rating for the State of California keeps going lower …. downgraded to A- the other day by S&P, almost caught up (down) with Fitch and Moody’s ratings (BBB and Baa1, if memory serves).”
    The state is facing another financial crisis. The gov is proposing “drastic” cuts, there is talk of a constitutional convention to solve the problem.
    In a sane world HSR would be put on indefinite hold given California’s financial situation. We can’t afford to issue any more bonds that will simply drive the overall bond rating lower.
    Beyond that, the hugely expensive extension from King to Transbay (costing many many times more per mile than the rest of the system) cannot be justified IMO.
    If HSR goes forward they will have to find ways to cut it or build it out over a longer time period. The first thing to go in a cut or to be delayed should be the extension beyond King St.

  23. Posted by lyqwyd

    Gil, why aren’t you talking about putting all Highway & Airport construction on indefinite hold? Sounds like you are just trying to use the budget as an excuse to attack HSR.
    jamie, you may call it whatever names you want, but refusing to accept the value of a study on the best alignment for HSR sure seems like you have ulterior motives. If you are looking for the best high speed rail project for California, a study makes perfect sense. On the other hand if your main concern is the minimum impact for you personally, then I can understand why you would be opposed to a study.

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